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© APUS/AMU - Property of Bedford St Martin's - 0-312-62422-0 / 0-312-62423-9 - Copyright 2009
CHAPTER 15 Reconstruction, 1865–1877 u 443 the land. When the South Carolina planter Thomas Pinckney returned home, his freed slaves told him: “We ain’t going nowhere. We are going to work right here on the land where we were born and what belongs to us.” Johnson’s amnesty plan, entitling pardoned Confederates to recover property seized during the war, blasted these hopes. In October 1865, Johnson ordered General Oliver O. Howard, head of the Freedmen’s Bureau, to restore the plantations on the Sea Islands off the South Carolina coast to their white owners. The dispossessed blacks protested: “Why do you take away our lands? You take them from us who have always been true, always true to the Government! You give them to our all-time ene- mies! That is not right!” On the Sea Islands and elsewhere, former slaves resisted efforts to evict them. Led by black army veterans, they fought pitched battles with plan- tation owners and bands of ex-Confederate soldiers. Landowners struck back hard. Often aided by federal troops, the local whites generally prevailed in this land war. In early 1866, as planters prepared for a new growing season, a battle took shape over the labor system that would replace slavery. Convinced that blacks needed super- vision, planters wanted to retain the gang-labor system of the past, but with wages replacing the food, clothing, and shelter that the slaves had once received. The Freedmen’s Bureau, although watchful against exploitative labor contracts, sided with the planters. Wage Labor of Former Slaves This photograph, taken in South Carolina shortly after the Civil War, shows former slaves leaving the cotton fields. Ex-slaves were organized into work crews that were probably not very different from earlier slave gangs, although they now labored for wages and their plug-hatted boss bore little resemblance to the slave drivers of the past. New-York Historical Society. © APUS/AMU - Property of Bedford St Martin's - 0-312-62422-0 / 0-312-62423-9 - Copyright 2009
444 t PART THREE Economic Revolution and Sectional Strife, 1820–1877 The main thing, its reform-minded founders had always believed, was that depen- dency not be encouraged “in the guise of guardianship.” Rely on your “own efforts and exertions,” an agent told a large crowd of freedmen in North Carolina; “make contracts with the planters” and “respect the rights of property.” This was advice given with little regard for the world in which those North Carolina freedmen lived. It was not only their unequal bargaining power they worried about or even that their ex-masters’ real desire was to reenslave them under the guise of “free” contracts. In their eyes, the condition of wage labor was, by defi nition, debas- ing. The rural South was not like the North, where working for wages had become the norm and qualified a man as independent. In the South, selling one’s labor to

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